Read Kathir's Redemption (Book 6) Online

Authors: Kristian Alva

Tags: #YA fantasy, #epic fantasy, #dark fantasy, #fantasy, #dragons

Kathir's Redemption (Book 6) (9 page)

BOOK: Kathir's Redemption (Book 6)
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Skera-Kina shrugged.

The outcome is not what I expected, but I find it acceptable.


Are we finished then?

he asked.


I think so,

Skera-Kina answered.

We are even, you and I. If the gods have decided that we shall be adversaries in this life, I shall accept that as well.

She returned his gaze, and he was surprised to see no sign of resentment in her face.

I suggest that you leave now, while you still can. A crowd has started to gather again, and under the circumstances, I cannot guarantee your safety. There is bound to be a great deal of upheaval here in the next few days.


Let

s go, Tallin,

said Mugla, walking up behind him. She looked at Skera-Kina sadly.

I wish I could go back and change the past, but I can

t. I should have saved ye when ye were a baby. Please forgive me.

Skera-Kina took a deep breath.

This is the life I

ve been given. I must accept life as it comes and be happy with it.

Tallin knew it was pointless to say anything else, so he turned and walked down the stairs with Mugla. Duskeye and the elves were waiting for them below.

Duskeye lowered his neck so Tallin and Mugla could both mount his saddle. Before takeoff, Tallin turned to Xiiltharra and spoke to her.

Thank you for saving all of us, Your Grace.

The elf queen smiled at him frostily.

I didn

t do it for you.

She looked up at Skera-Kina, who was now standing at the edge of the platform addressing the people below.

We

ve been having problems with Balbor for quite some time, now. I deduced the main problem was that the priests were all human

they die much too quickly. Mortals have very short memories. They forget very quickly and break promises as easily as one breaks an egg. Skera-Kina solves this trifling problem for me. She is half-elf and half-dwarf. Although she is mortal, she may very well rule this island for thousands of years. Now I don

t have to worry about returning to this horrible place for a long time. It

s a very elegant solution, don

t you think?

Tallin

s mouth dropped open. He didn

t know what to say.

Mugla tapped his shoulder gently.

Let

s go, my dear.


This mission was always about making Xiiltharra

s life easier

she was simply tired of being

inconvenienced
.

The elf queen had already turned away, and was crooning softly into her dragon

s ear.

Mugla nodded.

Yes, well, that

s true, my dear. It

s their nature, and ye shouldn

t be surprised. I

ve told ye that before. She may have known all along how it would turn out.

Tallin hadn

t even considered the possibility that Xiiltharra knowingly sent Carnes
î
r to his death. It was frightening to think that Xiiltharra regarded even her own people as expendable.


They

re
elves
, Tallin. They don

t need a reason for anything that they do.

Mugla looked up. The elves had taken off and were flying upwards into the starry night.

Come now, let

s catch up with them.

Before they flew away, Skera-Kina called out to him.

Tallin!

It was the first time she had called him by his name.

Tallin turned and looked over his shoulder.

Yes?


I

m keeping the Sword of Sedaria,

she said.

It belongs to me now. After all, it is a
family
sword, isn

t it? And I am of the family.

Tallin nodded. She was right. What could he say? He tightened his stirrup straps and tapped Duskeye

s shoulder.

Let

s go, old friend.

Duskeye spread his blue wings and took off into the night sky, following the elves away from the island of Balbor. Behind him, Skera-Kina picked up the High Priest

s staff and raised it to the heavens. The people stood by, watching Skera-Kina speak. Despite everything she had endured that night, her eyes were bright and clear. She was already giving orders. The guards looked confused for a moment but then started to clean up the square as she commanded.

The people gathered below the platform looked afraid, but seemed ready to obey. The citizens of Balbor had been governed by a dictator for so long that they didn

t understand any other way of life. They were willing to accept anyone who would lead them.

Tallin knew, right then and there, that Skera-Kina

s leadership would not be questioned. Her rise to power would be swift and unchallenged.

After that, Tallin didn

t look back. He felt very tired.

 

4. The Fall of Mount Velik

On the other side of the continent, deep inside the caverns of Mount Velik, a battle was raging between the dwarves and the orcs. Though Mount Velik had been threatened several times by orcs through the ages, the greenskins had never breached the city gates. The dwarves had always prevailed, and Mount Velik had always been safe.

But not this time.

For the first time in history, orcs breached the city gates, pouring into the weakened city to destroy it. The dwarves held the main passage into the city for several days, but they could not hold the position. Despite having superior weapons and armor, the dwarves were vastly outnumbered, and they were eventually overrun. The city succumbed to the invading army, and the pillaging and destruction began.

The dwarves retreated into the deepest parts of the mountain, and the order was given that the women and children hiding in the lower caverns should evacuate. They escaped using secret underground passages to exit the mountain.

A few soldiers stayed behind to cover their escape. Small bands of armed dwarves stationed themselves inside strategic passageways, fighting off the orcs as best they could. They drove the orcs back several times, but never for long.

The dragon riders Sela and Elias patrolled the sky overhead. After the main gates collapsed, there wasn

t much they could do to help defend the city. The orcs

numbers were simply too great. Sela and Elias decided to remain behind to help cover the dwarves

escape.

Small clashes continued inside the mountain. In one of them, Skemtun, leader of the dwarf mining clan, jumped back and only narrowly escaped the downward slash of an orc

s sword. He turned around and brought his axe around in a smooth arc and pierced the creature

s green flesh. A stinking gush of black blood sprayed across his wrist. The creature collapsed to the ground, roaring in pain with Skemtun

s axe jutting out of his shoulder.

By his side, Kathir the mercenary blocked a blow that had been aimed at Skemtun

s head. Kathir killed the orc by slicing through its neck.


There are more greenskins coming this way!

one of the men shouted.

In the narrow confines of the tunnel, Skemtun saw another of his men cut down as he jumped forward to defend against the new wave of attackers. Skemtun struck first with the sharp blade of his sword.

Although the orcs were physically stronger, they were clumsier and slower than the dwarves. And because of their size, the orcs couldn

t flank them in such a narrow space. Skemtun pressed close and killed any who gave him the slightest opening. The flurry of violence was followed by another swift withdrawal.

The orcs fell back, running to gather more reinforcements. Skemtun snorted with disgust and turned around to see what was left of his battered contingent. They had lost two more men.

Skemtun walked over to Kathir.

The orcs are stronger than I thought,

he said quietly. He took off his hat and wiped his brow with his handkerchief.


They

re aggressive, but they have their weaknesses too,

Kathir said.

We

re pretty deep inside the mountain, and the passages are getting narrower. As long as we keep moving, we

ll be able to escape. You should start thinking about how you

re going to save the few men that are left.


How much time do we have, you think?

Skemtun asked.

Kathir shrugged.

Your guess is as good as mine. The orcs are ransacking the caverns right now. King Nar will eventually send out smaller forces to rout all the remaining dwarves in the mountain. He won

t give us a chance to regroup.

The deep scars on his cheeks only emphasized his grim expression.

Skemtun coughed violently as he sucked air into his tired lungs. He looked around. They were in one of the smaller tunnels. Behind him, half a dozen of his men were visible in the dim torchlight. Most of his men were injured.


They

ll be back and in greater numbers,

said Kathir.

We need to fall back before another wave of reinforcements arrives.

Skemtun kicked the body of a dead orc.

Filthy greenskins! I

ve killed so many, but they just keep coming, like rats out of the forest during a fire.


Times have changed,

said Kathir.

There

s more of them now

I

ve never seen their numbers so large. We never stood a chance once the orcs breached the main gate.

The dwarves had triumphed in the past, but now the clans were fragmented and weak. King Hergung was dead, and the Vardmiter clan had abandoned them, splitting their numbers in half. The dwarves were like a rudderless ship

they had no strong leadership, and no direction. They were fighting a losing battle.


We must pull back into the deepest part of the mountain,

Kathir said.

This passage is no longer defensible.

Skemtun picked up his axe and his sword and placed them back into his belt.

Alright, we

ll move back, but I won

t retreat completely. I think we can defend against one more wave.

Kathir shook his head and pointed at the dead bodies surrounding them.

It

s too risky. Your men are past the point of exhaustion. We must retreat.

Skemtun sighed. He knew Kathir was right. It was time for them to move.

All right, lads!

he said.

Back to the next choke point. Quickly now! Follow me!

The dwarves ran for a long time, stopping at a point where the tunnel narrowed again. Skemtun spotted a young dwarf carrying a stack of boxes down the tunnel. He grabbed the boy by the collar and jerked him around.

BOOK: Kathir's Redemption (Book 6)
7.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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